The Joys of being a Phantom: A reflection



Image Credits: Drina Lim


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The Joys of Being A Phantom: A Reflection

No, I don’t stay in hall and I haven’t joined a million CCAs. No, I don’t get bored. Yes, I am a phantom. And as a proud member of the “Go Straight Home Club”, I am here to tell you why it’s not as bad as it sounds, and why you should allocate at least one day of your week to doing nothing and partake in the joys of being a phantom.

It may be my extreme introversion speaking (I blame the pandemic for having exacerbated it to the point where I scored a 99% on the introversion scale of the MBTI test), but it doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert. If you’re someone who’s over-committed, hear me out. How did you get here? Were you perhaps looking for some ways to make new friends? I am no stranger to the Redditor’s laments of how difficult it is to make friends with common interests in University, outside of their coursemates. It seems to be a pretty big problem, yes, but the solution is not committing yourself to so many things that you do not have time to breathe. Or perhaps you’re a creature with many interests. You enjoy filling your time with things to do, and people to see. But if you find yourself resenting the fact that you’re too busy and that you wish you could be more of a phantom, then allow me to try and convince you to join this side.

The First Joy of Being a Phantom: You can throw away your calendar

Okay, not exactly, but you get my gist. Revel in the blank date squares and seek comfort in knowing that you can have time to yourself, and that the compulsion of needing to be productive does not weigh heavily on you. I do have to warn you, though, a side effect of this may be the constant, nagging feeling of “did I miss something? Am I supposed to be doing something, but forgot to?” Don’t worry, the feeling passes. 

Look for the reasons behind your commitments and if you find that they don’t hold up, that’s probably a sign you should drop them.

The Second Joy of Being a Phantom: You won’t be as stressed

You know all those tips from study-blogs on how to manage your time? We don’t need those anymore! I’m joking (obviously). But in jest there is truth. Being a phantom wasn’t exactly a conscious choice. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide: “I’m going to blow off all my commitments and live like a hermit.” But what I did decide was to prioritise, and I found that most of my priorities entailed having time to myself. Matter of fact is, I simply could not bring myself to allocate more time to certain other interests that did not make the cut. Just ask yourself: “Do I enjoy this? If I don’t, does it contribute to my self-development? If it doesn’t, why am I spending time on it?” Look for the reasons behind your commitments and if you find that they don’t hold up, that’s probably a sign you should drop them.

The Third Joy of Being a Phantom: You can finally get more sleep

Maybe this isn’t a priority for you. But it definitely was a priority for me. If you stay on campus, you will quickly realise that many “campus life” activities begin at midnight. If you have morning classes, you will just have to make peace with the fact that you will probably be dragging yourself to class with a cup of coffee in your hand and regretting staying up late. Or, you could do the simple thing and “phantom”— in the verb sense of the word.

 It is a truth universally acknowledged that a student in university must be a student in need of sleep. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Phantoms are rarely seen, but when you do spot one, do they seem very sleep-deprived to you? (If you do come across a sleep-deprived phantom, you can probably just assume that at least they were sacrificing their sleep for something they wanted to do, and the reason for it is not over-commitment to things that they don’t actually want to do.) I believe this is what the kids call the “joy of missing out”.

The Fourth Joy of Being a Phantom: You can discover more about yourself 

Often when we are asked to introduce ourselves, we start with our names, course of study, then go on to talk about the numerous CCAs or commitments we have taken up. Does this ever feel odd to you? It seems that our identities become tied to what we are doing, instead of what we are interested in, and it can be easy to get mired in this.

This is another thing that being a phantom can help you out with. If you strip away your commitments, what do you have left? Maybe you will find something even more fulfilling, and your identity won’t have to revolve around a packed schedule that doesn’t give you any happiness.

The Fifth Joy of Being a Phantom: You have time to smell the roses

A common thread that lies within the aforementioned joys is that by being a “phantom”, you can focus on what is truly important to you, and have more time for these things. But this isn’t simply about having more time for things that may not be important to you starting out, but the little things that help you appreciate what you have and who you are. 

A Free Trial of Being a Phantom

If I still haven’t convinced you of the joys of being a phantom, that’s alright. Seeing as Spook-tober has just passed us by, however, you could always give being a ‘phantom’ a try, even if it’s simply to honour Halloween. You may find that you enjoy it, and eventually leave the over-committed life behind, never to turn back.